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Ethnicity, social status, and families' experiences of caring for a mentally ill family member

Abstract

There is growing attention to the role of families as caregivers of family members with serious mental illness. This paper presents data from a multicultural sample of 90 family caregivers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The paper examines families' experiences with mental health services; their support networks and family burdens; and their conceptions of mental illness. The paper both provides one of the first comparative studies of family caregivers from different ethnic groups and suggests an agenda for future research in this area.

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Peter J. Guarnaccia, Ph.D., is affiliated with the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, Rutgers University. Pilar Parra, Ph.D., is affiliated with the Dept. of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University.

The study reported on in this paper was carried out as part of the larger research program of the Center for Research on the Organization and Financing of Care to the Severely Mentally Ill at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, Rutgers University. The Center is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (MH43450-04). The specific research project on minority family caretakers of mentally ill family members was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (#13180) and by funding from the Center. Dr. Parra was supported by a Minority Investigator Supplement from the National Institute of Mental Health (5P50 MH43450).

We would like to thank all of the families who shared their experiences and insights with us. Our hope is that this work will serve to improve their lives. We also wish to thank the staff of the various mental health programs who collaborated with us in the study through identifying families and through providing us feedback on our research results. We would like to thank Nuri Argiles, Dr. Aura Deschamps and Glen Milstein who interviewed families and participated in discussions and presentations of the results of the study. Dr. Hilton Miller has contributed to both presentations of the research and discussion of research findings. Henry Henderson was actively involved in the analysis of data.

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Guarnaccia, P.J., Parra, P. Ethnicity, social status, and families' experiences of caring for a mentally ill family member. Community Ment Health J 32, 243–260 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02249426

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Keywords

  • Mental Health
  • Mental Illness
  • Mental Health Service
  • Community Mental Health
  • Family Caregiver